• Introduction
  • User interface
  • Ease of use
  • Features
  • Cost
  • Summary

NEO vs. Moodle


NEO is a word-class, award-winning learning management system (LMS) for schools and universities. NEO helps schools manage all classroom activities, such as creating and delivering educational content, assessing students, tracking their results, and promoting communication and collaboration between students and teachers/faculty. NEO is a product of CYPHER LEARNING, a company that specializes in providing learning platforms for organizations around the world.

Moodle is an open source LMS that allows users to download the source code for free or host it on their own servers. Even though Moodle has been adopted widely throughout the world, the system no longer represents a viable solution for modern education. Self-hosted LMSs cannot keep up with the advancements in educational technology, and more institutions are starting to move towards cloud-hosted solutions.

NEO School portal

Institutions are no longer adopting Moodle

Moodle adoption peaked in 2010 with 41% of new LMS implementations, but dropped to only 2% in 2016. The data shows that in the first quarter of 2017 the adoption rate was 0%.

The adoption rate of Moodle in other regions of the world has started to decrease significantly, from 60% new implementations in 2015 to 49% in 2016, and only 3% in the first quarter of 2017.

Some of the reasons why institutions are moving away from Moodle

Expensive self-hosted option: The significant decrease in Moodle’s popularity can be attributed mainly to the large costs related to self-hosting and the amount of resources needed for maintenance.

Long implementation process: Installing the software may be simple but configuring and fitting it to the institutions needs can be a time-consuming process that can last up to 18 – 24 months.

Outdated design: The Moodle interface is somewhat old-fashioned and clunky compared with what is expected of modern web applications. Although the Moodle UI can be customized, most Moodle sites tend to be dry, text heavy, and uninspiring.

Ease of use: Many schools that use Moodle have to run training courses for their staff in order to use it effectively. Because of the extended learning curve, users won’t be able to fully enjoy the benefits of the system right from its implementation which can decrease the product's perceived usefulness among early adopters.

Why cloud-hosted is better than self-hosted

Studies show that institutions are moving away from self-hosted solutions, because they require substantial investments to cover server costs, storage and maintenance.

It is a far better solution to get an LMS that looks good right out of the box, has integration with variety of tools, is easy to implement, easy to use, and comes with low initial costs. Here are a few reasons why cloud-hosted is better than self-hosted solutions:


Cloud hosted solutions offer a predictable cost over time, they have a smaller upfront investment and they don’t require additional hardware investments.

Self-hosted solutions may have a reduced initial price, but the institution must also pay for associated hardware, maintenance, and more.


In the case of Cloud-hosted solutions, data security is in the hands of the vendor. Cloud-hosted solutions have strict data security standards to protect your data.

In the case of Self-hosted solutions, the institution oversees protecting their own data. This might cause issues if institutions are not up to date with data security protocols.


Cloud-hosted solutions are flexible and allow users to easily make customizations and adapt the solution to their needs.

Self-hosted solutions might offer customization options, but these can significantly increase the implementation time and custom features can cause problems when the core software needs to be updated.


A Cloud-based solution takes less time to implement compared to Self-hosted solutions. Implementing self-hosted solutions requires more organizational tasks, responsibilities, and additional time for hardware and infrastructure setup.

The real cost of Moodle

Moodle can be downloaded for free, it can be self-hosted or hosted by a 3rd party company such as Moodlerooms. Here is an analysis of the cost of each option:

Self-hosted for Small schools

You can run a few hundred students on a single server and single database if you don't mind the possibility of outages if the server fails or occurs outside of normal school hours. A small-school configuration can often be installed and administered by an IT enthusiast, so the running cost won’t be that high considering that just one FTE is needed to keep the system running.

The estimated cost of servers, storage and operating system is somewhere between $4,000 and $7,000 but if you want to have a backup server that will double the costs. If you want your servers to run at all times, you may need to invest in some UPSs, which adds another $1,000 - $2,000 depending on their performance. Add the cost of auxiliary server equipment and the estimated initial cost is between $10,000 - $20,000.

You will also need to provide training to faculty members and students, which will probably cost another $3,000 or more depending on the number of users trained.

There is also the IT administrator’s salary which can differ from country to country. In the USA for example, the salary can range between $40,000 and $86,000.

There can be many additional recurring costs, for example if the school wants integrations with 3rd party tools such as anti-plagiarism tools web conferencing tools, etc.

Self-hosted for Large schools

In the case of large schools and universities the cost structure is similar, but costs are multiplied because of the need for high-performance servers and large storage capacity.

To run Moodle reliably (99.9% uptime) for a lot of students, you need a more sophisticated setup than just a single server. Specifically, we recommend:

  • 1 hardware load balancer
  • 2 servers or more, depending on the number of students
  • 2 copies of your SQL database in a master/slave setup with failover
  • 2 memcached servers for fault-tolerant caching
  • 1 high capacity RAID disk system for file storage and backups
  • 1 search engine
  • Professional monitoring software

For example, for a large university of almost 100,000 students and thousands of courses, only the hardware and supporting equipment would cost over $350,000.

With the large and complex equipment also comes a higher number of FTEs for maintaining a system, configuring software, adding different integrations, classes, and resources. It requires an IT specialist with knowledge of how to set up, configure, and maintain a complex cluster environment who is available 24/7 to deal with performance issues and outages.

If we calculate with one FTE for IT administration and 2 FTEs for software management then the cost will hit $200,000. Adding to this 2 - 4 support FTEs who will instruct users and staff will cost another $100,000 - $200,000.

Commercially hosted

Schools and universities can choose to host their LMS using hosting services, which can be an independent hosting service or an official Moodle partner such Moodlerooms.

Schools and universities can choose to host their LMS using hosting services, which can be an independent hosting service, or an official Moodle partner such Moodlerooms.

The price of a hosting service can vary significantly based on the needs of the school or university. Hosting companies may offer plans and packages that cover different needs. Pricing is based on the number of the students, resources, and classes. High performance hosting with considerable disk space may start around $1000/month but the fee can increase with the needs of the organization.

Why NEO is a better option than Moodle

NEO is a cloud-hosted modern learning platform for managing all classroom activities, such as creating and delivering content, assessing students, tracking student achievement, and facilitating collaboration between students and faculty members.

NEO is a better alternative to Moodle because it provides a complete solution for supporting efficient teaching and learning.

User interface

The NEO interface is a modern, responsive design that looks sharp and automatically adjusts based on the type of device. It provides attractive tile-based dashboards for students, teachers and administrators, a graphical class catalog, as well as simple pop-out navigation. Many features can be enabled or disabled to suit young children through to college students. It provides rich content authoring as well as a visually attractive way to create and organize lesson material.

NEO Student dashboard

Ease of use

NEO is very intuitive and easy to use. In addition, it includes an online help center with videos, getting started guides, and searchable help content. NEO also has a rapid response support forum where staff members typically respond to questions within 15-30 minutes during business hours 24/5.

NEO Help center


NEO provides the range of functionality you'd expect in a modern LMS, such as support for classes (instructor led, blended, self-paced, and micro learning), twelve kinds of assignments, full-featured gradebook, content authoring, beautiful lesson layouts, gamification, automation, learning paths, drip content, adaptive learning, mastery and competencies (including US common core standards and Next Generation Science Standards), question banks, class templates, rubrics, collaboration tools, resources catalog, a customizable portal, and more.

NEO supports many important industry standards such as SCORM, Common Cartridge Format, LTI, QTI and LDAP. We also integrate with a wide variety of systems, including Google Drive, G Suite, Office 365, OneDrive, Calendars (iCal), Turnitin, Zapier, GoToMeeting, Zoom, WebEx, SIS, Equella, and more.

Here is a list of the features included with NEO that are not supported by Moodle:

User interface

  • Customizable visitor portal
  • Graphical dashboards
  • Graphical class catalog
  • Graphical resources catalog
  • Customizable terminology
  • Automatic language translation of messages and forum posts


  • Content sync
  • Prerequisite certificates
  • Automation
  • Gamification
  • Drip content
  • Micro learning
  • Adaptive learning
  • Compliance
  • Class ratings and reviews
  • Seating charts

Assessment and analytics

  • Personalized assignments
  • Scheduled reports
  • Assignment types such as teams and debates


  • Teams
  • Organizations
  • Social networking


  • Integration with your own email server
  • Zoom
  • GoToMeeting
  • GoToTraining
  • Skype for Business
  • MailChimp
  • PayPal
  • Authorize.net
  • Stripe
  • PayUbiz
  • PayU Latam


  • Monitor and teaching assistant account types
  • Student help desk
  • Terms and conditions
  • SEO features
  • Trash can for restoring deleted content

NEO Class catalog


NEO has a free plan and costs about $6 per student per year for its Small school plan and $7 per student per year for its Enterprise plan. There are no setup fees, cancellation fees, storage fees, bandwidth fees, support fees, or other hidden costs.

NEO Class page


This presents a comparison of the most important features between NEO and Moodle.

NEO is a more modern, powerful, and intuitive LMS than Moodle offering a larger set of features suitable for both K-12 and Higher Education clients. If you require additional information on NEO, please contact us at contact us.


This comparison paper was written in April 2018 based on publicly available documentation on both vendors' sites. It was prepared as a guide and is not intended to be exhaustive. The comparison information is for guidance only and does not constitute any contractual representation, warranty or obligation on our part. Liability for errors, omissions or consequential loss is expressly disclaimed.

Since pricing and features can change rapidly, we do not represent that this information is up-to-date, and we encourage you to get the latest information directly from the vendor's web site. If you find any information in this comparison guide to be inaccurate, please contact us with details and we will correct the information within 72hrs.